Shiloh Ridge 2003
by
Ken Womack

The Jan. SHR Run was held on Sat.  Feb. 1st at Shiloh Ridge Off-Road Park northwest of Lufkin TX.  It was a beautiful crisp morning when Lee Miller and myself met up with Jack Brinks and his daughter Jessie and Steve Weinberg and his buddy Reece at Burger King in Cleveland.  After finishing breakfast, we headed on up to Shiloh. 

About ¾ of the way there Jack informed us that the Shuttle Columbia was reported missing. Later it was confirmed that Columbia had broken up and was strewn across a good part of East Texas.  It turned out that many folks at Shiloh, including Jay Albrecht and Marta, heard the explosion going right over them.  We were all saddened by the tragedy. 

We arrived and met up with fellow club members, Michael Ecord in his TJ, Steve Smith in his Cherokee XJ, along with another buddy named Randy who drove a Dodge Durango, as well as Jay Albrecht and Marta and John Wilson in his Toyota Tundra and rider Jack.  Later we got together with Andy Slater and Jelmer Eising (hope that’s correct) in a ’92 YJ owned by their friend, Michael Greer.  Also there was Jay and Clint from Nacogdoches in a fine ‘93 Burnt Orange YJ.  I rode shotgun with Lee Miller in his ‘93 red YJ.  Jack Brinks had his ’77 CJ.

We started doing some ledge climbing off the main road…there were 4 hills.  One nearly impossible, one hard but doable, one medium and one easy.  We played there for a while and took some pictures.  Jack had a new 4 to 1 transfer case to break in and was doing a review of it for Rockcrawler.com.  It worked very well.  From there we turned right and down a steep hill and up another.  The right side had some ruts and gullies and was a fun challenge.  On down the trail next to the fence led us to the Rock Garden.  This is where the park owner had piled up huge iron ore boulders to make a rock challenge….and to get them out of the way.

Here is where we caught up with Andy Slater, Michael Greer and Jelmer, who is from The Netherlands.  This was his first 4-wheeling excursion and he really enjoyed it.  Jack, Jay Albrecht and Michael played on the tougher stuff, while the rest of us enjoyed the show.  There were some ledges, slabs and just plain big rocks there to test your rig.  It was cool!

From there we took off towards the back of the property and passed the mud bogs to a steep hill climb, where we played for a while.  There were 3 hills, one for going up and down to try the other two, one medium hill and one hard one.  The medium one had some large boulders and a 1-foot ledge as well as a large stump right in the way.  Steve Weinberg tackled this one and scrambled on up.  Lee Miller did this one too, as well as Jay in his YJ.  Randy tried it in his beautiful Durango, but snagged a lower door panel on some large, loose rocks.  He made another attempt, but lost traction and got high centered.  He did give it a shot, but 31’s just didn’t afford enough clearance….he still had fun on it anyway. 

The other hill was quite a bit more precarious.  You had to go over some large rocks just to get to the steep hill with a large stump on the left and a ledge, a root, and a tree on the right.  Jack, Michael E., Jay Albrecht and Jay all tried and conquered this hill.  Jay A. and his red TJ made it look easy and the big smile on his face confirmed he liked it.  Jack’s’77 CJ-7 slowly crawled the boulders down low, then rose up and crawled past the stump and then he gave it some gas and it roared up slowly, quite impressive.  Jack has built an Awesome CJ with AMC 401 power, 4 to 1 transfer case gears, heavy duty axles, 38” tires and made it all work very well without resorting to the sawzall to make it all clear the fenders.  It works oh-so-well and still looks like a Jeep.  Jay (didn’t get his last name, from Nacogdoches) has an awesome YJ with 35’s, Dana 44’s front and rear, low gears and lot’s of other good stuff.  He climbed this hill as well with his burnt orange Jeep looking good doing it.

From there we went to Helicopter Hill, a large, steep hill in the trees that looked harder than it was, except for the steep center section that was pretty gnarly.  Michael tried this one and backed down, Jay A. did the same.  Jack’s Jeep quit running and could not get fuel.  He got pulled back to camp, as it was lunchtime anyway.  Jack found the problem, a fuel line pickup hose that came loose inside the gas tank.  After reattaching the hose he was running again.  We all ate lunch and listened to the radio to hear more details of the shuttle crash.  It was a somber time, but we finished lunch and went on to enjoy the rest of the beautiful day.  

We left camp and went to the ravine areas of the park.  This area has many hills climbs, some easy, medium, hard, and insane.  Michael and Jay A. did some very steep hills.  Both TJ’s sported amazing wheel travel with driving skill to match.  The rest of the folks did hills they felt comfortable with and some just watched and enjoyed.  There were many ravines in this area.  Several we did and many more we left for next time.  Randy found him a rather large mud hole with water that was calling his name.  He went for it, nearly made it and then got stuck.  A quick tug got him out and he went for it again.  This time he made it, but shut the motor off and wouldn’t restart.  He let it dry out some and later it fired up.  Randy wasn’t afraid to run his Durango, and run it he did! 

Michael Greer had just bought his YJ a week before and was surprised at what it could do, and what everyone else could do with theirs.  Jelmer had never wheeled before and really loved it.  

We all enjoyed our day run, but it was time to pack up and head for home.  See that’s the beauty of Shiloh Ridge, you can actually go up, ‘wheel for the day and return home in one

day!  It’s the closest thing to a local run that we currently have.  You can also camp overnight or the whole weekend.  The prices are reasonable and the scenery is nice. 

This was the first time that I have not taken my Jeep on a run and rode shotgun.  It was different, but fun and relaxing.  Thanks to Lee, I got to ride.  It was a good run; we had 10 rigs, beautiful weather and good luck.  And lot’s of SHR Fun. 

Our hearts go out to the Families of the Shuttle Columbia Crew.

Ken Womack…